Who doesn’t love chocolate?
And does it have a part in Paleo?
Yes…as long as it’s the right type of chocolate.
Raw cacao is extremely high in antioxidants, good fats and has zero sugar.
Recent research studies have shown a link between cacoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks; in fact, Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.
Remember, though, we’re talking about the real deal, not an ultra processed, adulterated version of something that used to be healthy it its original form.
What to avoid?
Using your common sense should clear it up. Not a candy bar, laden with synthetic sugars and hydrogenated oils and not alkalized cocoa powders, which significantly lowers the antioxidant value.
Hershey’s Center for Health & Nutrition (yes, it really exists) states on their site when describing the process:
“Alkalized cocoa powders, sometimes referred to as Dutched, come from cocoa nibs and/or chocolate liquor that have been treated with mild alkali solutions in order to raise the pH. This alkalizing or dutching process is a safe and approved process for cocoa that is used to modify the color, taste, and functionality of cocoa powder in food products. Alkalization can be used to create a range of dark brown and red-brown colors that add desirable appearances to some food products that contain cocoa powders. Alkalization can improve taste by reducing some of the sourness and bitterness associated with natural cocoa powders. The alkalization of cocoa powder can also improve the solubility of cocoa powder in certain beverage applications.”
A study presented in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2008 showed that the processing that alkalized cocoa powder undergoes substantially reduces the amount of beneficial substances it contains.
So how much and how often can someone who’s Paleo partake?
It depends on what you’re doing with the goods, what you’re combining them with and how you’re balancing out the macro nutrients in the rest of a meal.
I like to use raw cacao nibs sometimes in my smoothies, and once in a while I’ll use them to make my decadent Paleo truffles. The former is something I’ll do more often, whereas truffles are not something one would eat with any regularity.
Throw out those Snicker bars and grab the nibs! It’ll take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to eating milky, sugary chocolate, but eventually your palate will adapt.
I’m a fan of the 99% raw cacao myself…dark, rich and oh-so-paleo-luxxe!